Cleanskin (film)

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Cleanskin FilmPoster.jpeg
British Theatrical release poster
Directed by Hadi Hajaig
Produced by Hadi Hajaig
Screenplay by Hadi Hajaig
Starring Sean Bean
Abhin Galeya
Charlotte Rampling
James Fox
Tuppence Middleton
Music by Simon Lambros
Cinematography Ian Howes
Edited by Hadi Hajaig
The UK Film Studio
Distributed by Warner Bros. (US)
Entertainment One (UK)
Release dates
  • 9 March 2012 (2012-03-09)
Running time
108 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $79,664[1]

Cleanskin is a 2012 British spy thriller film written and directed by Hadi Hajaig and starring Sean Bean, Abhin Galeya, Charlotte Rampling, James Fox, Tuppence Middleton, Shivani Ghai and Michelle Ryan. The story is set in London.[2] The film's title, "cleanskin", is a term for an undercover operative unknown to his or her targets, or, as more commonly used in the United Kingdom following the London bombings, an extremist with no previous convictions, so therefore unknown to national security's services.[3]


Ewan (Sean Bean) is a top Secret Service Agent doing bodyguard work for a man named Harry (Sam Douglas). Ewan and Harry go to a building where they are followed by two terrorists, Ash (Abhin Galeya) and Ibrahim (Mens-Sana Tamakloe). Ibrahim goes into the building where he kills a woman and shoots Ewan several times. It turns out that Harry is in possession of explosives called SemTex, which the terrorists are after for a suicide bombing. Harry tries to shoot Ibrahim, only to discover there are no bullets in his gun, and is killed by him. Ibrahim is then killed by Ewan, who later walks away as if nothing happened.

One of Ash's friends, Paul (Tariq Jordan) designs a jacket containing a bomb, which he gives to one of their associates, Adel (Shane Zaza). Adel goes to a popular restaurant where he detonates the bomb. Ewan goes to work where his two superiors, Charlotte (Charlotte Rampling) and Scott (James Fox), put him on a mission to find the terrorist cell that created the bomb. He is given an assistant, rookie Secret Service agent Mark (Tom Burke), who is a perfect shot. Ewan beats a prostitute named Rena (Shivani Ghai), who slept with Harry, for information. She tells Ewan and Mark that she was in a relationship with Paul, who wanted to know information about Harry. They go to Paul's house where she tries to get information about him, but when the two break into the house, he stabs Rena in the neck. Paul is stabbed in the hand and shot by Ewan after an attempted sneak attack.

Ash is at a cafè where he sees a woman named Kate (Tuppence Middleton) and they exchange numbers. A series of flashbacks are shown from six years ago, where it is revealed that Ash and Kate were dating at university, where they studied law. Ash is introduced to Nabil (Peter Polycarpou), a Muslim extremist who quickly befriends Ash and asks him to join his group. Ash and his friend, Yussif (Chris Ryman), join the group and are brainwashed by Nabil into believing that everyone who isn't Muslim is evil and that they should become terrorists. Later that night, when Ash is at the university bar, he sees Nick (Chris Geere), one of his rivals, trying to hit on Kate and he forces Kate to go, but they have an argument. The next day, Ash runs into Nick who insults him and says that he slept with Kate, and is beaten by Ash. Ash goes to his apartment and breaks up with Kate.

In the present, Ewan and Mark see a man (Jeetandra Lathigra) with a jacket and Ewan assumes he is a suicide bomber. They break into his apartment where he begs for mercy and says he isn't a suicide bomber. Ewan doesn't listen and sets him on fire, leaving him to burn to death. A series of flashbacks cut to three years earlier, where Nabil tells Ash that his next target is Sgt. Glen Conlan (Glenn Wrage), an ex-soldier living alone on a farm who tortured Muslims in Afghanistan. Nabil sends his best friend, the emotionless, violent Amin (Silas Carson) to help Ash and Yussif with killing him. They go to Conlan's farm, where Yussif follows him to the barn, but is stabbed in the face. Ash chases him to the house, where Amin kidnaps him. Ash looks in a room and sees a woman with a baby, whom Amin kills. Ash and Amin take Conlan to an abandoned building where Ash films Amin beheading Conlan and setting his dead body on fire.

Back in the present, Ewan and Mark go to a housing estate, where they see Ash and another person talking. Mark chases after the unknown man, while Ewan lets Ash get away on a motorcycle. Ewan is sleeping in a hotel when Mark tries to kill Ewan. Ewan gains the upper hand and stabs him with a pocket knife, but when Mark refuses to tell Ewan who sent him, he leaves Mark to bleed to death. Ewan realises that the man Mark killed wasn't a terrorist and that Ash is planning a bomb. Ash and Kate get back together after they bond over break-ups. Nabil tells Ash that the police found Conlan's body, but cannot identify him, due to the disfiguration. He also tells Ash that an American Senator, whose daughter is marrying an Englishman, is his next target. He makes the bomb using SemTex. Ewan sees him at the hotel where the wedding is and they start a fight, but Ash ends up escaping. He goes to the reception and confronts the senator and his family, about to detonate the bomb, but is killed by Ewan. He leaves the hotel and sees a man carrying a suitcase which stands out from the others. Stuck in thought, the bomb blows up the entire building with Ewan as the main witness.

In the epilogue, Ewan finds a piece of paper labelled "34" in his jacket. He goes to the nearest post office and opens box 34 with a key from the jacket, finding a tape and some papers. He watches the tape, which shows footage of the man Ewan set on fire saying that he is an English citizen named Hussein Malik, who is a Secret Service Agent. Ewan, distraught, goes back to the hotel room and finds Charlotte's lighter in Mark's shirt. He realises that Charlotte hired Mark to kill him and has framed Scott for being corrupt. She would become the boss and be known for getting rid of one of their most controversial agents. He confronts Charlotte at her countryside mansion and slits her wrists with a razorblade.



The film was shot in various locations in central London. Borough Market was used for a scene in which a suicide bomber detonates an explosive device and over 150 extras were utilised. Other locations include the Mayfair Hotel, an exterior view of the Radisson Grafton Hotel at the top of Tottenham Court Road, the Maughan Library (King's College London), Hoxton Magistrates Court and the sprawling Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle.

The Aaton Penelope 2 Perf 35MM camera was used and the film was shot on Kodak stock. The film was edited on the AVID editing system and mixed at Twickenham Film Studios. It was later sold to Warner Brothers for distribution.


As of 3 February 2014, Cleanskin held a critical approval rating of 53% on Rotten Tomatoes.


  1. ^ "Cleanskin". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ Happyantipodean movie review
  3. ^ "Cleanskin"

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